It’s a journey that started back in February 2010 for Emma Murphy. At 25 and a soon-to-be bride, Emma did pretty much zero exercise and didn’t follow a healthy diet plan. At just 4ft 11 and a few stone overweight, Emma knew it was time for a change. It’s been a few years – and an up and down journey at that – but now, 3 stone lighter and a whole lot fitter, Emma has ditched the fad diets and discovered the key to healthy living…
What inspired you to make a change?
When I started back in March 2010, I had six months till my wedding day and, at 10 stone 6 and only 4ft 11 (the recommended weight for my height and age was between 7st 7lbs and 8st 8lbs), I didn’t like the way I looked in the mirror. I didn’t have any kind of diet plan before other than, like a lot of people, trying to avoid biscuits and chocolate and not enjoying too many takeaways. Something had to change before it was all eyes on the bride! At the time, my work colleagues were great – I had them all shout “fat bride” at me if I even looked at a cake.
What were your initial goals when you started?
Initially, I wanted to lose one and a half stone to be roughly 9 stone in time for the wedding. Back then, I didn’t know a great deal about fitness and diet really, so it was all about weight loss for me. I just wanted to get to the goal weight of 9st.
Can you describe your old self before the transformation?
I was round. My face was round and my tummy was round. I had large-ish arms and my legs were just a touch too chubby for my liking.
How did you go about getting to your 9st goal weight?
My diet was a mixture of all diets. The cereal diet, Slimming World, the 5:2 and a makeshift “Emma” diet, derived from all the fad diets you hear about. I coined it – much to the amusement of my friends – “No Cheese on a Weekday”. It’s basically no food higher than 5g of fat per 100g unless it’s good fats like oily fish, and oats (no bread, just wraps and pittas), and no snacking unless it’s fruit. This is the diet I stuck to. I didn’t factor in an accompanying fitness regime, it was all about the diet side.
Did you succeed?
I did succeed and was 9st on my wedding day, much to my delight. However, after that, I eased up the diet a little and I put on a few pounds. I then had a baby! I of course then needed to lose my baby weight. So, about six months post-partum, I was 9st 9lbs and I wasn’t 100% happy with how I looked or felt.
So, you’d had a baby and you wanted to get back in shape. How did you go about it this time?
Initially, I wanted to lose the 3/4 of a stone I had put back on since the wedding and pregnancy. I decided to go back onto the diet that had seemed to serve me so well the first time – “No Cheese on a Weekday”. So again, I cut out the fatty foods and stuck to the rules of my diet plan. By the end of 2014, I was hovering around the 9st mark, but I was in a bit of a rut. I wanted to lose more weight and look better, so I realised I needed some serious exercise to go with the diet.
What exercise did you start to do?
Not being a fan of gyms, I knew that wasn’t the way forward for me. Instead, I found this amazing government app, ‘Couch to 5k’, aiming to get me running 5k in 9 weeks. I had never run in my life, not even at school, but I put my mind to it and started running in February 2015, jumping over frozen puddles! I couldn’t believe my makeshift Emma diet plus running 3x a week was actually working! My cousin asked me to do Race for Life with her too so I had an extra incentive to keep up with the running. By May, I was running 5k and ready to do the event and actually completed it in a very respectable 34 minutes. The weight was still coming off and I was loving it.
How did your fitness regime and diet evolve over time?
As much as I enjoyed running, changes to my lifestyle (moving house, job changes etc.) meant that getting out and running wasn’t as convenient as it had been. In addition, I started to notice that my weight loss had stopped and I wasn’t as toned as I wanted to be. That’s when I discovered classes. Now I am an avid Pilates and Yoga goer. It really tones me up and gives me a good mental attitude. By April 2016, I weighed 7st 11lbs, which was simply a natural loss from doing the classes and keeping up with the diet plan. I am still following “No Cheese on a Weekday” as it’s now a lifestyle choice not a ‘diet’ but I do let myself go at the weekends a bit. This is mostly because I can’t resist my mum’s roast dinners and my nan’s puddings!
How often do you exercise now?
I do four classes a week: Pilates twice, Power Pilates (with weights, such as dumbbells) and Yoga. I also walk (often power walking) wherever possible. I feel the combination of the walking and the classes does so much for me.
What’s your favourite part of your current fitness regime?
I adore Pilates as it really makes me feel toned and stretched. I am now toning up more and more, still trying to get rid of the tiny bit of baby tummy that is left and gaining some muscle, making my arms and legs a little more sculpted. I also really enjoy eating and cooking healthy foods and finding new ways to make vegetables more exciting.
What effect has this transformation had on you?
I am so much happier being smaller. I don’t mind looking at myself in the mirror now. I am more confident in summer clothes when my arms are out, especially with the Pilates toning me up. I have a lot more energy than I used to and can run around without getting out of breath. I now hover around the 8-stone mark, which is perfect for me. I don’t fixate on my weight now though – it’s all about how I look and feel.
Where do you get your motivation from?
My motivation comes from looking much better. I look back at old pictures and that just spurs me on. Also, just that feeling of being healthier and more energetic.
What’s the hardest part of your new lifestyle?
The hardest part is having a fussy four-year-old and a husband to cook for. I’m often making three separate dinners, and theirs looking so yummy! And, as much as I love my classes, going out in the cold and dark when you’ve only been home from work an hour is difficult too sometimes. But then I feel so good after I have done it, and I remember it is all worth it.
What’s next for Emma?
Well, since running the Race for Life, I have realised I love a challenge. Last year, I did a bit of a sugar, caffeine and alcohol detox for a month and loved it (I even gave up my nan’s puds!). So, this year I am going to try and do ‘Vegan Month’ throughout February. I already love almond milk, pulses and grains, I don’t have much dairy, and I eat fruit and vegetables at any opportunity. It’ll be a challenge but with research and planning, I think I will do it just fine! I will let you know how I get on!
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